Best music from Australia – Tame Impala

You may have heard that I’m leaving Australia. After spending three amazing years in the land down under, my wife and I are moving back to the United States. While I’ve been here, I’ve tried to check out as much of the local rock scene as I can.

In this multi-part series, I’ll tell you about my favorite Australian musicians. First up…

Tame Impala

tame impalaAll right, so I knew about this band before I came to Australia. But in my mind, Tame Impala truly broke out while I was here, releasing an amazing second album and playing a bunch of killer shows. Hailing from Perth, these lads have a sound that’s big enough for large venues, but the tunes are so multi-layered and intricate, you’ll want to play their tunes through some good headphones, too.

Singer Kevin Parker also appears on three funky tracks on the new Mark Ronson album, Uptown Special.

I got to see Tame Impala live for the first time at the Enmore Theatre in Newtown and they just destroyed.

If you like psychedelic rock music, you owe it to yourself to check this great band out. Here’s a video for “Elephant,” the big single off of 2012’s Lonerism. Tame Impala is expected to have a new album out later this year, so stay tuned.

Check back next week for another great Australian band!

My own NaNoWriMo

I’ve yet to do NaNoWriMo.

For the uninitiated, National Novel Writing Month is an annual event taking place in November in which writers try to complete a novel in a single month. It’s a great idea, but I’ve never participated.

For one thing, I work full-time as a journalist — basically writing all day — and I’ve never had the time or energy to participate. Also, maybe I’ve just never had the timing right. Every time November rolls around, I seem to be in the middle of a project and I don’t want to lift my head up to work on something new.

Still though, I’ve always liked the idea of spending a month just focusing on creative writing — a month to bash out ideas and just get in the flow of writing.

Thanks to the encouragement of my lovely wife Mallika, I’m finally going to do it. Okay, so not in November, and I’m not starting from scratch on something new… but I am going to spend the next month making a full-on effort to finish my in-progress third novel, The Wanderer and the New West.

Our time in Australia is in its sunset. Photo taken in Broome, Western Australia.

I wouldn’t be able to do this if not for the fact that Mallika and I are in the midst of a huge life change. After three years living and working in Australia, we have decided to move back to the USA. I finished working at IDG Australia at the end of March, and as a result have about four solid weeks to focus on my novel.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I’m about two-thirds of the way through. I’ve written all that over about two years (including development of the idea and the actual writing), all while self-publishing and promoting my first two novels and working that full-time job to which I keep referring. I think now, though, that I’ve got enough momentum to finish the remaining third of the first draft in the next month if I give it my devoted and undistracted attention.

Happy to report I got to work today and wrote two new scenes and tuned up a few existing chapters. I have to say that it felt really good. In fact … I better get back to work!

Library Journal tags We, The Watched in SELF-e

SELF-e logoI’m excited to say that my dystopian novel We, The Watched will join SELF-e, a select list of self-published eBooks curated by Library Journal and Biblioboard!

This means my novel will soon be available to libraries all over the US through BiblioBoard Library. The first Library Journal SELF-e curated collection is expected to be available to libraries in mid-2015.

We, The Watched will also soon be available to readers throughout my home state of Pennsylvania in the Indie PENNSYLVANIA module as a highlighted selection.

The idea behind SELF-e is to expose notable self-published eBooks to readers around the country who are looking to discover new authors. Libraries can make ebooks available for free with no requirement to return the book and no multi-user restrictions.

Hugh Howey, author of the sci-fi series Wool and a major advocate for self-published work, has had some great things to say about SELF-e.

“The number one challenge any author has is building an audience,” he says on the BiblioBoard website.

“Once they have an audience, they have an opportunity to grow their work We, The Watched by Adam Benderprofessionally. Librarians can be a powerful marketing force for emerging authors, especially if they can promote the books without fear of success. The SELF-e approach to curation combined with simultaneous user-access will encourage books to be discovered and even go viral.”

In We, The Watched, an amnesiac struggles to conform in a surveillance society he doesn’t remember. Resistance is heresy and punishable by death. But some seek to ignite a revolution.

You can buy the novel in print and eBook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and other major online bookstores.

World building in dystopian novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall

We, The Watched and Divided We Fall are set in an unnamed nation that is not unlike the US, UK, Australia or other “western” countries, but is much further along in its use of government surveillance.

While technically science fiction, I purposely avoided any out-there, overly futuristic elements in order to keep these books as grounded in reality as possible. The surveillance technologies discussed in the book mix what’s available today with what there is potential for in the future. I wanted to create a place that, while fictional, didn’t seem like much of a stretch given the current debate over government surveillance.

My novels have two interlinked, overarching conflicts, with three sides.

Within the country, you have the government and the Church together in a fight against revolutionaries who call themselves the Underground. Essentially, I took America’s First Amendment promise of separation of Church and State and turned it on its head. By uniting, they exercise totalitarian control over the people. The government provides physical enforcement while the Church spreads the psychological propaganda that keeps the people in line.

Illustrating the merger of Church and State is the motto of the Guard, the nation’s army:

PATRIOTS ARE THE TRUE. HERETICS ARE THE DAMNED.

Holding to that policy, the Guard keeps a Watched list of suspicious citizens. Those who are found out as Heretics face public execution.

Are you being watched? Take the quiz!

Naturally, not everyone’s going to agree with that, and the strongest opponents have formed a revolutionary group called the Underground. Funded by a mysterious benefactor, the Underground collects evidence of the government’s wrongdoing in an effort to gather followers and spur an uprising.

The symbol of the Underground.

The fire-eyed graffiti symbol of the Underground.

Meanwhile, there is a second conflict–an international war between the nation and an unnamed Enemy. The division between the government and the Underground makes the nation weak against the Enemy. The more internal division, the worse things seem to get in the war against the Enemy.

The hero of my novels, Seven, enters this nation without memory. Like the reader, Seven finds it all very strange and forms an opinion of who is in the right and who is in the wrong. But what can one man do, especially when the punishment for treason is execution?

Find out this answer and more in We, The Watched and the sequel, Divided We Fall, available now from Amazon and other major online booksellers!

You can also get the first book free by signing up for my newsletter via NoiseTrade below! If you sign up in the next month, I’ll throw in the sequel! (eBooks only)

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The Wanderer is coming …

I’m excited to say I’ve reached about the two-thirds mark of my next novel, The Wanderer and the New West.

It’s a mix of the western and dystopian genres with lots of action, and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Whereas my first two books focus on a nation where the government and church have united in a totalitarian force, my new novel imagines an America where things have swung entirely in the other direction. The government is weak and individuals use guns to make their own justice. It’s a real return to the Wild West.

The Wanderer is a lone vigilante in this New West, travelling from town to town fighting for what he thinks is right.

Of course, there is much more to the story than that. But I hope this gives you a taste of the direction I’m heading. I believe there’s potential for a lot of interesting stories within this world, and I’m finding it absolutely addictive to write. I’ve always loved the Western genre but think it’s ready for an update to make it more relevant for modern times.

Hope to share more soon! Please feel free to email me your questions and I’ll try to answer them the best I can in my next newsletter. If you’re not already part of The Underground, click here to subscribe.